Whether you have a handful of employees or several hundred, managing organizational communication is a business-critical function. After all, organizational communication is what binds a business together. From employee engagement, idea-sharing and team collaboration through to shared company culture, organizational communication takes center-stage.
The modern workplace is, however, constantly changing and is more diverse than it’s ever been. Most offices are now a dynamic mix of telecommuters, employees working flexible hours, freelancers and non-desk workers. Internal communications has dramatically changed: the once-popular emails are no longer hitting the spot. Furthermore, digital technology presents us with an overwhelming choice of communication tools.
It’s no wonder many business owners and managers are struggling with how to implement organizational communication in practice. Here we share some practical tips to help you get started.
1. Know Who Your Audience Is
Your employees are not a generic bunch. They are individuals who share commonalities whether it be job role, team or office location. You can also identify internal audiences in the following ways:
- Full-time versus part-time employees
- Remote workers and distributed teams
- Geographically dispersed staff
- Generational cohorts – Millennial, Baby Boomer, Generation Y, etc
While it’s important to keep everyone informed, there will be messages that are more relevant to some than others. For example, a change in accountancy software will have a major impact on finance staff. They will want detailed information on what’s happening and when. Other employees – such as those who raise purchase orders – however, just need to know the basics and how it will affect them.
Good organizational communication means that you present the right information to the right audience, at the right time. So, instead of sending out an all-staff email announcing the new accountancy software, take the time to properly plan. Identify your internal audiences and their information needs. Consider where they are and how they like to receive information. Then, select the most appropriate channel for getting that message across (there’s more on specific channels later).
And when identifying the audience, make sure you consider size too. Your finance staff will no doubt have lots of questions about the new software. Therefore, select smaller audience groups and communication channels that allow for interaction and feedback.
With today’s diverse workforces, your staff members will have different communication styles and learning preferences. Whether it’s visual, auditory, reading/writing or kinesthetic, cater to all styles.
If your company has office locations in different time zones or countries, then planning ahead is essential. As well as considering cultural differences or translation needs, you should ensure everyone receives the information at the same time.
2. Determine The Type Of Message
Every day in every organization there’s a vast range of communication happening. It’s important to understand the type of message you want to deliver as it will influence the choice of channel.
Below are the more common types of organizational message:
Organizational Communication Examples
General Business Updates
Usually delivered from the top down through the ranks, these messages are about keeping stall informed. It could be about company performance, industry updates, or company-wide news, awards or recognition for a job well done.
Change is a constant in every business. And sensitive communication is essential to effective change management. Internal change communications range from mergers, acquisitions or restructuring through to office openings and closures, staff movements and new software or internal processes. It can also relate to the external operating environment with industry compliance or regulatory changes to updated case law or government policy.
Employees need to have a variety of information to perform their jobs effectively, safely, and to their best ability. These messages include updated internal policies and procedures, how-to information for business processes as well as new products or services coming on-stream.
In an emergency, it’s essential to get the right information to the right people as quickly as possible. Messages in this category include natural disasters, technology crises such as cyber-attacks or outages, product failings or recalls and external events such as a terrorist threat, fire or police incident.
This covers a broad range of communications loosely tied with up culture and shared values. Messages include team-building events or social activities, employee rewards and recognition, corporate social responsibility initiatives and any non-business communications.
When it comes to employee engagement, two-way communications are essential to good overall organizational communications. This allows staff to communicate directly with management and share ideas, provide feedback and insights. Staff surveys, polls, and Q&As come under this category.
Peer communication messages include collaboration on a project or task, idea-sharing between colleagues and knowledge sharing. Also covered are messages around the exchange of data and information between teams or individuals.
3. Choose The Right Communications Channels
Nowadays, there’s certainly no shortage of communication channels to choose from. Rapid changes in technology have increased the options but have also made it more complex and challenging. The communication channel you select will depend on your audience, message and budget. Here’s a quick run-through of the most popular channels:
A firm favorite, more often used in an online format rather than hard copy version.
Town Hall Meetings
Another traditional option can be used to share news, celebrate success or communicate company-wide issues.
These replicate the town hall meeting for telecommuters or distributed teams.
Great for sharing insights and inviting feedback from smaller groups of staff.
Virtual Team Meetings
Video-conferencing apps allow you to hold team meetings with staff even if they are remote workers or located in different offices.
Still a mainstay for many organizations, email is great for reaching large groups quickly, however, email doesn’t allow for interaction or feedback.
Text Messages or Messaging Apps Like WhatsApp
A useful tool for short, urgent messages such as a system outage, especially in the context of non-desk staff or remote workers.
Surveys and Polls
Great for inviting feedback from staff and starting up two-way conversations on corporate issues.
Most employees will already be on the main platforms for personal use. Some companies are also using these platforms to disseminate organizational communications sometimes in private, closed groups.
Sensitive messages need to be delivered in face-to-face meetings, for example, news about restructures or staff performance issues.
Blogs and Vlogs
Becoming more popular, blogs and blogs enable you to deliver more detailed organizational communications directly to staff. Furthermore, you can invite comments and feedback and so are a great vehicle for ongoing dialogue.
The universal coverage of the intranet makes it a great vehicle for organizational communications. Use the team or company-wide news feed and what’s hot buttons to highlight key messages.
4. Plan to Communicate Regularly And Consistently
To be really effective, organizational communication needs to be done regularly and consistently.
Sporadic communication just leads to confusion and mistrust. Employees can interpret poor communication as a failure to value them individually and collectively.
Furthermore, the ways in which we work are constantly changing. More and more of us are working remotely. According to the latest statistics among the salaried population, regular telecommuting has grown by 173 percent since 2005. What’s more, 80 percent of the global work workforce is deskless. That’s an incredible 2.7 billion employees worldwide.
These changes in how we work require new ways of thinking. In this context, traditional channels are not fit for purpose. You can no longer rely on sharing an office and chatting to employees at the water cooler for your organizational communication.
Regular, consistent communication that’s inclusive of all employees requires a plan. An organizational communications strategy allows you to plan consistent communications, mediums and messaging at regular intervals. And it also provides an overall focus and sense of direction for your corporate communications.
5. Measure The Impact Of Your Organizational Communication
An organizational communication strategy will also set the framework against which you can measure success. Communication is something of an elusive notion that can mean different things to different people. Measuring success can be challenging. A mix of both qualitative and quantitative data will be needed to build up a comprehensive picture.
Possibilities here include anecdotal evidence from staff focus groups in response to a particular communication initiative. Another possibility is the analysis of employees’ ad hoc comments to stories on the intranet’s news feed or CEO blog. Or staff feedback and insights shared through any communication channel.
More formalized measurements could include staff turnover figures, improved share value and productivity rates, increased employee satisfaction in the staff opinion survey, and snap polls or surveys.
Try to collect as much data as possible to provide a comprehensive assessment of organizational communication. And then make sure you act on what the data tells you. Organizational communication and any overall strategy will evolve and change over time. You need to be confident that your communication is working for you. Make evaluation and review a priority at the most senior level of the business.
Importance Of Organizational Communication
And if this sounds like a lot of hassle for your small business that’s been ticking along nicely for years, then consider these statistics:
- 74 percent of staff feel they miss out on important company information.
- An empowered office environment can increase worker productivity by 25 percent.
Good organizational communication requires thoughtful planning and an investment of time and resources but the rewards can be significant.
- It boosts staff morale, working relationships and ultimately employee engagement rates.
- It gives staff a voice so they can feedback and help your business to continually grow and improve.
- Reduces the potential for misinformation and misunderstanding to undermine working relationships and operations.
- It helps employees to understand the bigger picture and their contribution thereby improving their motivation and sense of purpose.
- It makes managing distributed teams much easier. Remote workers, those working flexible hours and non-desk workers can still feel connected and informed.
- It reduces the possibility of potentially expensive mistakes due to misinformation.
If you want to improve organizational communication in your business, then get in touch with us here at MyHub. Our easy-to-setup and manage cloud intranets could be the solution you are looking for.